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NightWatch 20111106

NightWatch

For the night of 6 November 2011

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - Iran: A report by the IAEA to be released within a week will make the most detailed charges to date that Iran's nuclear program is in fact a nuclear weapons program. Sources said that the report will include new information on efforts by Iran to develop technologies to build a nuclear weapon, including computer models of a nuclear warhead. The new report is expected to make more explicit charges that Iran is developing nuclear weapons than previous reports.

Comment: If the report contains facts supporting the charges reported above, it will raise significant questions about the integrity or analytical technique of reports issued when Egypt's el Baradei was in charge of IAEA, plus the substance and techniques of one US National Intelligence Estimate in 2007 and its update last year.

El Baradei is a politician who was reputed to have slanted IAEA reports for political ends. One report this weekend accused him of withholding data for political purposes. He is now a candidate for the Egyptian presidency, in next year's elections.

What is not yet clear is whether the new findings are the result of new data or a reinterpretation of existing data. For example, the existence of computer models of warheads was reported in public media in 2007 and 2008. The 2007 US Estimate and the IAEA discounted their importance. Computer files containing information on delivery systems - ballistic missiles - also were dismissed at that time.

One point that seems increasingly clear is that Iran did not stop its nuclear weapons program, as alleged in the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, but might have paused it during the US attack against the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003.

A new report on Iran is likely to result in more Israeli media leaks about plans to attack Iran's nuclear weapons facilities.

Syria: In observance of Eid al-Adha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice, Syria released 553 prisoners detained during the country's unrest, the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported. The move occurred after Damascus accepted an Arab League peace plan to end Syrian violence, Iran's Press TV reported.

Comment: The release of prisoners is one of the provisions of the Arab League plan. However, that plan, crafted by Sunni Arab leaders for non-Sunni Alawites to implement, was one-sided in that it called for the Syrian security forces to withdraw from cities, but did not call for Sunni Arabs to lay down their weapons. Thus weekend press touted the existence of a 15,000-man army of insurgents composed of defectors from the Syrian Army with about 220,000 active duty personnel.

Greece: Under pressure from the European Union, the Greek government formed a coalition whose primary task are to approve the EU bailout plan and to prepare for elections as soon as possible.

Prime Minister Papandreou does not head the coalition, which negates the vote of confidence he narrowly won on Friday.

Comment: Most analysts assessed that a no-confidence vote for Papandreou would drag out the bailout process and professed relief that he won the vote. But that is precisely what the Greek politicians engineered.

Within 24 hours, the Greek politicians apparently decided that the on-confidence vote went the wrong way and by consensus, including Papandreou, brought down the government. They also fired their top economic advisors from European banks.

That seems to have been the trigger for the EU leaders to intervene by dictating to the Greeks that they must form a national unity government and approve the bailout plan before any other business ,or the EU would let the Athens government run out of money. The Greeks wanted general elections before other business.

The behavior of the Greek politicians indicates they want no blame for the EU austerity program to come. They were trying to slow-roll the austerity program using parliamentary tricks as well as engaging in usual local politics. Thus far, the Greek political leaders have displayed no commitment to saving the Greek economy and appear to be positioning themselves so they can claim they did not support the austerity provisions of the bailout plan.

Even if the new national unity government moves swiftly to approve the EU bailout, the implementation process will be delayed until after a new cabinet is formed and parliament reorganized. This is more slow rolling of the austerity measures, probably until after Christmas and New Years.

The outlook is for near team political confusion that will be followed by civil unrest which could lead to military intervention to maintain civil order. Looking into the mid-term future, martial law has become a possibility.

End of NightWatch for 6 November.

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